Ask the Teacher

My second grade daughter is starting to get excited about reading and can read simple chapter books. How do I go about picking appropriate books for her?

When a young reader “turns the corner” and is ready to read longer books, it is such an exciting time! To keep the positive momentum going toward becoming a lifelong reader, proceed cautiously. Begin by selecting books on the easier side until your daughter demonstrates not only the ability to read at the level at which the book was written, but also has shown comprehension skills and the sustained attention span required for longer works. Ease her into more challenging books by reading the first chapter aloud to get her hooked. If she seems to give up on a book quickly, it may be a good one to read together by taking turns reading aloud.

Start with authors whose books have been popular across generations, like E.B. White (Charlotte’s Web), Roald Dahl (The BFG) and Judy Blume (Freckle Juice).

There are many engaging book series that may interest your daughter as well, such as the Amelia Bedelia books, The Boxcar ChildrenThe Magic Tree House series and Cam Jansen mysteries. Make a trip to your local library and choose a few of the first selections in the series books. She may be drawn to particular ones. If she cannot seem to get interested, try reading them aloud to help generate her interest.


Attending my son’s fall conference always makes me a little anxious. I am never quite sure if I should just be listening to the teacher or asking questions. What exactly should I be prepared to do? What kinds of questions would be good ask?

Teacher conferences should be a balance of talking and listening by both parents and the teacher. Because the conferences are typically scheduled for 15-20 minutes, being prepared ahead of time is the best way to make the most of your appointment.

Listen to the teacher explain your son’s areas of strength and those that challenge him. If something is a surprise to you, say so. Ask the teacher to clarify how she has drawn that conclusion. If it is an area of weakness, request specific ways that you can help your son at home. A surprise disclosure of a weakness can catch you off-guard and bring a defensive response. Allow yourself to process the information for a bit before asking for more information.

Base your own questions on trends and patterns that you observe in your son and in his work rather than on a particular question from one paper or his bad attitude about school one afternoon. Think about how you formulate your questions so that the teacher feels respected and is ready to partner with you for your son’s success.

For the second year in a row, my child’s teachers have suggested somewhat indirectly that he should be tested for Attention Deficit Disorder. Why would anyone risk having a child labeled ADD?

If two teachers in two consecutive school years have suggested that your son be tested for ADD, they must be observing behaviors that indicate that he may be dealing with this. Teachers have a good understanding of developmentally appropriate behaviors and attention spans. Their experience and what they have seen in your son have led them to believe that he may have ADD.

Testing by a respected pediatrician or child psychologist who takes teacher and parent observation into account will indicate or eliminate a diagnosis of ADD. If, indeed, that is what the professionals find, adjust your thinking. Rather than consider your son being “labeled,” think of this information as a diagnosis.

Ultimately, we want all children to have respectful behavior, to be attentive in school and to complete the tasks assigned. With a diagnosis of ADD, your son’s behaviors and academic expectations will be viewed through a slightly different lens. An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will be written to identify ways to support your son’s learning and development and help him learn effective ways to cope with his difficulty focusing. If it is determined that your son does not have ADD, different strategies will be used to teach appropriate behaviors for academic success.



Ask the Teacher is written by Deb Krupowicz, a mother of four who holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and InstructionDeb has over twenty years of experience teaching preschool, elementary and middle school students. Please send your questions to her at [email protected]



Related Articles



From our Sponsors